The Connecticut General Assembly
OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH
.I NAME: 532.rpt
.I COMP: 3/31/97
.I REVW: cop000
.I PAGES: 5
.I TITLE: drugs
.I NOTES: tjo
March 31, 1997 97-R-0532
FROM: Sandra Norman-Eady, Senior Attorney
You wanted a summary of HB 6991, An Act Concerning Drug Policy. Following is a section-by-section analysis.
Division of Substance Abuse Policy and Management—(§§ 1-4)
The bill establishes a Division of Substance Abuse Policy and Management within the Office of Policy and Management (OPM). The division is responsible for:
1 developing, adopting, coordinating, administering, monitoring, and evaluating a statewide substance abuse policy that coordinates such policies within the Judicial Department and other state agencies;
2. establishing uniform policies and procedures for standardizing, collecting, managing, and evaluating substance abuse information;
3. submitting an annual report to the legislature, Judicial Department, and any appropriate state agency on substance abuse; and
4. creating a Substance Abuse Policy Council.
The bill requires the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to establish a pilot methadone research program and the Department of Correction (DOC) to establish a pilot methadone maintenance research program. It also requires DOC to screen inmates for drug use and offer appropriate detoxification treatment, including methadone detoxification.
Health Coverage for Substance Abuse (§ 8 and 41)
The bill removes a requirement that group health insurers provide coverage for its members who are confined to a hospital or other recognized facility for substance abuse treatment and instead requires the state Medicaid program and group health insurers to cover substance abuse in the same way that they cover other medical or surgical services beginning January 1, 1998.
Department of Public Health (DPH) Substance Abuse Study (§ 9)
The bill requires DPH, in conjunction with health care professionals, to study issues related to the development of substance abuse screening and intervention protocols to be used for hospital admissions.
Training Health Care Professionals (§§ 10-22 and 42)
The bill requires (1) beginning January 1, 1999, physicians, physician assistants, osteopathic physicians, and nurses to successfully complete training in substance abuse prevention, diagnosis, and treatment before they are licensed; (2) such professionals licensed before December 31, 1998, to complete the training within five years of the act’s effective date; and (3) DPH, in conjunction with health care professionals, to study issues related to the development of a continuing substance abuse education requirement for these professionals.
Certificates of Need (§§ 23, 24, and 40)
The bill makes technical changes.
Eligibility for Federal Assistance (§ 25)
The bill exempts everyone domiciled in the state from a section of the Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act that denies federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and food stamp eligibility to people convicted of a felony with possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance as an element.
Needles and Syringes (§§ 26-28)
The bill removes the cap (currently 10) on the number of needles and syringes that may be bought, sold, exchanged in a needle exchange program, or possessed without constituting drug paraphernalia and instead requires DPH to establish this number by regulation.
New Definition of Drug Dependence (§ 29)
Under the bill, "drug dependence" means a psychoactive substance dependence on drugs as defined in the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Currently, "drug dependence" is defined as a state of physical or psychic dependence, or both, upon a controlled substance following administration of that controlled substance upon a repeated periodic or continuous basis.
Heroin Maintenance Treatment (§ 30)
The bill require DMHAS to establish a pharmaceutical heroin maintenance treatment program by January 1, 1998, to treat people chronically dependent on opiates in the three cities with the highest incidence of HIV or AIDS among injecting drug users.
Drug Courts (§ 31)
The bill requires the chief court administrator to establish a drug court in all geographical court locations.
Penalty for Selling Marijuana (§ 32)
The bill alters the maximum penalty for manufacturing, distributing, selling, prescribing, dispensing, compounding, transporting with intent to sell, or possessing with intent to sell one kilogram or more of a cannabis-type substance. Currently, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years imprisonment (five of which are mandatory) for a first offense and up to 25 years imprisonment (10 mandatory) for subsequent offenses. Under the bill, a person convicted of his first drug offense is subject to up to 15 years imprisonment, a $50,000 fine, or both and up to 30 years imprisonment, a $100,000 to $250,000 fine, or both for subsequent offenses.
Drug Dependency and Mandatory Minimum Sentences (§§ 33 and 40)
The bill eliminates the distinction between drug-dependent and non-drug-dependent people for the purpose of criminal sentencing for drug crimes. It requires everyone convicted of drug crimes to be subject to the lower penalty currently applicable to drug-dependent offender. The bill also eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.
Participation in Accelerated Pretrial Rehabilitation (AR) (§ 34)
The bill authorizes the court to allow defendants to participate in AR who have prior convictions or who previously participated if it finds that the (1) the defendant’s primary or most serious charge is possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia and that he is likely to benefit from drug education or treatment or (2) the defendant was drug-dependent at the time of the crime or motor vehicle violation for which he is currently charged and that the crime or violation resulted from such dependency. But a defendant is not eligible for participation under the second circumstances if death or serious physical injury resulted from the crime or violation. The bill requires the court order defendants admitted to AR under these circumstances to complete a drug education or treatment program as a condition of participation.
Drug Treatment in Lieu of Incarceration (§ 35)
By law, a court may order certain defendants participate in and successfully complete an alcohol or drug treatment program in lieu of incarceration. The court cannot exercise this option when defendants are convicted of murder, attempted murder, kidnaping, first degree robbery, or any other felony involving serious physical injury or they have previously received treatment.
The bill allows the court to order previously treated defendants to be treated again if it finds that the (1) defendant’s primary or most serious charge is possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia or (2) defendant was drug dependent at the time of the offense and that the offense was the likely resulted from such dependency.
Youthful Offender (§ 36)
The bill allows the court to grant youthful offender status to a youth (1) whose primary or most serious charge is possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia or (2) charged with any crime, other than a class A felony or first degree aggravated sexual assault, if it finds that the youth was drug dependent at the time of the crime and that the crime was the likely result of the dependency.
Community Service Labor Program (§ 37)
The bill changes the Community Service Labor Program to the Pretrial Drug Education and Community Service Labor Program and requires its establishment, instead of requiring it only if resources are available. It increases program eligibility by allowing the following to participate if the crimes they are charged with did not result in another’s death or serious physical injury:
1. people charged with possession of drug paraphernalia
2. everyone charged with drug possession, instead of just those who were not previously convicted for selling or possessing drugs, and
3. drug-dependent people charged with selling drugs.
It requires the court (1) upon receipt of a prospective participant’s application, to order the complaint or information to be sealed from the public; (2) to consult with the prosecuting attorney in charge of the case before granting program participation; and (3) upon confirmation of eligibility, to refer the person to DMHAS for evaluation and placement in an appropriate drug program for up to one year. The court may extend the one-year placement to any reasonable time it takes to complete the program upon the participant’s motion and a showing of good cause.
Under the bill, program participants must agree to participate in at least 10 drug education or intervention program meetings or counseling sessions, complete the program, accept placement in a drug treatment or education program selected by DMHAS or its equivalent, and perform community service.
It allows the court, upon its own motion, to dismiss the charges against anyone who satisfactorily complete the program and requires the bail commissioner to retain records of program participation for seven years.
Possession of Marijuana (§ 38)
The bill makes it an infraction to possess less than one ounce of a cannabis-type substance.
Appropriations (§ 39)
The bill appropriates $4 million for additional substance abuse treatment, $2 million to DOC for inmate residential treatment and $2 million to the Judicial Department for treatment of offenders participating in alternative incarceration programs.
Effective Date (§ 42)
This bill is effective October 1, 1997, except the (1) provisions requiring DMHAS to establish a pilot methadone research program, redefining drug dependency, and appropriating funds (§§ 5, 29, and 39) are effective July 1, 1997.